Friday, December 9, 2011

Top 2011 book list roundup

I'm not going to do a list of my top 2011 books.  I've already dispensed with the notion of stars and because I like so many books, some of which I've read this year but which didn't come out this year (one book I read this year came out in 1953), and for different reasons and different moods, that I just don't feel comfortable pinpointing just some of them.  It's all too much of a reduction for me.  But what I will do as a kind of year end roundup, is to point you in the direction of some of the more interesting, well done 'best 2011 book lists' that others have made.

  • Salon's fiction list is quite a nice one, followed neatly by their writer's favourites list where 50 well-known writers including Jeffrey Eugenides, Ann Patchett, Stephen Pinker and Ali Smith choose their favourite books of 2011.  
  • Publisher's Weekly has a top 10 slide show that includes review links.
  • The Guardian UK does something similar to Salon, and asks well-known authors like John Banville, Julian Barnes and Margaret Drabble to provide their lists.  Readers area asked to also contribute to the discussion.
  • The editors at Slate pick their tops, with quite an eclectic selection. 
  • The NY Times has 5 top fiction and 5 top nonfiction on their list.  
  • Kirkus Books focuses solely on fiction and provides review links to each book they've chosen.
  • Library Journal Review's top 10 has an interesting range of fiction and nonfiction
  • Goodreads choice award for 2011 has a range of popular and literary titles, all good.
  • The Telegraph UK's Keith Miller picks his besties for 2011 and I agree with nearly all of them (though I'm still struggling with The Pale King, which has some of the most beautiful writing I've ever come across but which is so painfully inchoate at times that I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get through it (and I like to think of myself as reasonably tough).
  • I haven't read a single book on the Esquire list and as you might expect, there's a kind of blokey slant to them at least judging from the descriptions, but I'm including it here for balance.
  • The Atlantic has ten enticing books that the others missed including one delightfully described as being "rich as loam".
  • Readings author picks has just a slight Australian slant, and includes some great books that other lists have missed (including the one I've picked as my #1 this year).
Finally I will just end by saying that the one book which made my heart race the most this year, which actually made me stop reading for a moment to catch my breath, was China Mieville's Embassytown.  It's not an easy book - certainly not one for reading when you're half-asleep or looking for a little light entertainment.  I've given my own copy out to about six people who wanted it after hearing me gush, and only one of them actually ended up reading the whole book.  But oh, the things Mieville does with language in that book.  It's extraordinary. 
Happy reading everyone!


  1. Thanks for the list and for the one that made my heart pump!

    Happy Holidays,
    Award-winning Children’s Author
    The Golden Pathway Story book Blog

  2. Ranker has a couple of best books of 2011 lists too split into novels and non-fiction at and They may not be experts, but fans can vote for their favorites too.

  3. Agree 100% with the two Ranker lists (well, not all of the choices, but I really like the way the lists are laid out and the fact that we, the people, get to vote to decide what's truly the 'best'). Thanks for posting both of those!